How to Find the Best Pharmacy Technician School Near Alabaster Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near AlabasterAL, you might be pondering just how to pick the right school to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find schools that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. Many future students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical concerns when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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The Job of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have multiple job duties, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Alabaster AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice regarding medications or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the common daily services a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Input prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Training Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Alabaster AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to get certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Alabaster AL employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the applicant be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Colleges Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacy technician online program, it's important to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in an area Alabaster pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech so as to receive some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Alabaster AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for most students, notably for those who keep working while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials may be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online training may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have decided whether you want to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy tech programs to pick from in the Alabaster AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Alabaster home. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are several other factors that you need to take into consideration in order to adequately compare programs. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician programs and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Be sure to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Alabaster AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many employers desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy tech program should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This qualification may be met by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires a year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the colleges have associations with Alabaster Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Getting that initial position in Alabaster AL after graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a difficult undertaking without some support. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Alabaster AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacy technician school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Alabaster AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Alabaster Pharmacy Technician Course
Receiving the best pharmacist tech training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a rewarding profession where assisting customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy technician programs include both clinical and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to select a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the proper training and dedication you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Alabaster Alabama.